Can Everett Golson and The Fighting Irish make it three in a row?
Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Michigan State Spartans Preview
Safety Zeke Motta (14 tackles) will play a pivotal role in slowing down the MSU ground attack and force the Spartans to beat them in the air. Defensive End Stephon Tuitt (4 sacks, 8 tackles) will be doubled in the 3-4 and called upon to keep Bell in check. Cornerback Bennett Jackson will keep an eye on the Spartan cadre of wily receivers. His two interceptions against Purdue were the most in a game by a Notre Dame cornerback since Harrison Smith notched a three against Miami in the 2010 Sun Bowl against Miami. Last week the squad did not give up a third down conversion to Purdue.
Michigan State Offense
The success of the Spartans rests on the legs of its star Runningback Le’von Bell (280 YDs, 4 TDs) He is the 6th leading rusher in the nation averaging 140 yards a game and 4.5 yards a carry. Bell’s backup, Larry Caper is no slouch himself averaging 6.2 yards per rush.
The Michigan State offense runs through the capable Quarterback Andrew Maxwell (60.9%, 523 yards, 2 TDs, 3 INTs) who is a quick study and plays well in the clutch with a 51% third down completion rate. He had a lackluster game against Boise State (248 Yds, 3 INTs) and the ND defense may be the best he will face. The importance of playing the Fighting Irish is not lost on Maxwell.
“When you’re playing a team like Notre Dame, having it be a trophy game, a game with so much history, to already be in a huge environment already is going to help us going in. Just like any other game, we got to prepare, prepare, prepare throughout the week. We got to bring a little something special this game.”
The Spartans have a solid young corps of recievers featuring Bennie Fowler (10 receptions, 13.5 YPG, 1 TD) and Dion Sims (10 receptions, 11.3 YPG, 1 TD).
In contrast to the Fighting Irish, the MSU O-line has been solid supporting its nationall-ranked rushing attack and have given up 0 sacks this season.
Michigan State Defense
The white and green defense ranks 8th in the FBS allowing only 226 yards of total offense, 11th allowing 55 yards rushing, and 27th passing allowing 171 yards per game. No team has scored a touchdown against the Spartans this season. Monster Defensive End 6’7” 278-pond Willam Gholston (7 tackles, 1 sack) and Linebacker Matt Bullough pace the unit. The Fighting Irish will have to fight extra hard to score on the Spartans who have kept dual threat quarterbacks like Golson in check.
A hot Notre Dame offense will face an even hotter MSU defense. The Fighting Irish defense is also very solid and has proven it can contain Bell. But can the blue and gold offensive line hold up its end of the bargain in protecting Golson and supporting Woods remains to be seen. It will be close as these games between the rivals tend to be but Notre Dame has beaten more worthy opponents this season. Now chalk up the Spartans in Spartan stadium on that list. The Irish have lost 12 of their last 15 openers but that trend will be reversed this Saturday.
Notre Dame 20 Michigan State 16
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